Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Growing old is hell

Today, memorial day, I remember my sons who have passed.  I remember relatives too but its my grandmother that dominates my thoughts today.   Grandma Mama.

My mother was mentally ill and a prescription drug addict.  She was in and out of mental institutions from the time she turned 16.  As a result I spent most of my childhood moving from foster care to orphanage to different relatives over and over again.  It was only when I married that I spent more than six months in one place.  My most memorable happy days were spent with my grandparents.  I remember my Grandma, that I always called Mama, telling me stories and teaching me things.  I was all ears and eyes and so eager to learn.  In my eyes Grandma Mama was the smartest, wisest, thriftiest, and most talented person in the whole world.  I wanted to be just like her.  I was a little shadow constantly at her side waiting for bits of wisdom from her.  I loved our summer walks through the woods picking wild berries to can and learning how to spot the earliest wild greens.  I loved our evenings together sitting by a single oil lamp stitching tiny pieces of cloth for quilts or using butcher twine to crochet into pretty lace doilies.  I loved her stories of all the relatives I never got to know.

As Grandma Mama grew older, and less able to care for herself, it never entered my mind to think of her as no longer valuable.  I enjoyed hearing stories of her life no matter how many times or how often she repeated them.  Even when the same story was repeated back to back I kept listening. It was just nice to hear the stories from her own voice because I knew someday the sound would only exist in my own memories.  Oh how much I would dearly love to hear that voice once more repeating those stories.

I often heard Grandma Mama say “growing old is hell” but I never truly understood what she meant.  I decided she must have been talking about the aches and pains that go with joints less flexible or the slowing down we do with age.   The reason Grandma Mama dominates my thoughts today is because suddenly I realized I’ve reached the age she was when I was her shadow.  I now have my own shadow called Ladybug.  In my mind I believe I can still do lots of things but when it comes to reality my body says to me no way, forget it.  In my mind I’m thinking like that strong twenty five year old while my body is asking what the heck just happened.  These days I know what it is to have aches and pains when I wake in the morning.  Surely that’s what Grandma Mama meant.  Right?

Ok, the physical aches, pains, and limitations can be a real b**ch to live with, but hell?  No, that’s not it.   There is something else to that hell of growing old Grandma Mama always talked about.  Its hell to see the baby faced child you loved and held and sacrificed so much for has grown up and you are not perfect in their eyes anymore.  Its hell to realize you can no longer protect them from life’s injuries.  Its hell to realize you have become a burden.  Its hell to know the time with the kids and grand-kids is short and growing shorter with each passing day.   Waking up each morning is a blessing to be cherished.  No one knows the time of our life’s end.  Its hell to know as an old person my only value is in the amount of money I can hand out of or how often I can be a babysitter.

Toward the end of their lives I cared for both my mother and my Grandmother.  My mother stayed in a nursing home at her end because of the heavy medications she took but Grandma Mama lived with me at the end.  It was hell watching my mother and Grandma Mama not just get older but get old.  I thought it a blessing for me to see past Grandma Mama’s frailties because I could remember when she was so perfect in my eyes.   My memories of those happier days were enough to get me through the times I let her lean on me.  I gladly helped her to use the bathroom and to bath her and fix her favorite foods.  Earlier this month it became 35 years since she passed.  In March it was one year since my mother passed.  The hell of growing old is wondering who will be there for me to lean on when it becomes necessary.   The hell is to know that at my age life grows shorter faster.

Old age finds me thinking about wills and final expenses.  Its hell when I realize that most of the people I hoped would attend my funeral have already passed on.  Its hell to hear about  an old friend with heart disease or diabetes and realize I’m no longer shocked by such news because it happens so often.  Its hell to loose friends or family but even more hell to realize my time here with them is short too.

Its hell when I walk upon someone who greets me like an old friend, we talk for awhile comparing ailments, then when she walks away I think to myself who the heck was that?  Did she really know me or is she asking herself the same question?

Its hell when I give my age but then find myself hesitating to ask myself, wait, is that right or am I older?  Its hell knowing my life is flying by much too fast and as we all know life has no brakes.  Its hell to realize I have much too much left to do but far less time than I’ll actually need.  Its hell realizing I’m not invincible as I once believed but I’m actually mortal and time is always too short.

Its hell when I realized no one celebrates WW2 victory day anymore because there are so few still living who remember its meaning.  Its hell when you say catch phrases popular when you were young but realize no one knows what the heck you mean.  Its hell when you ask a child for help understanding new technology but all they do is roll their eyes in response.  I’m told I should enjoy my golden years but I don’t, I want some of my youth back.

Oh Grandma Mama you were so right, getting old is hell.

Here is a music video I thought you might enjoy listening and watching. Be sure to have some tissues handy.  The old man no one loves


23 comments on “Growing old is hell

  1. kathi
    June 3, 2017

    oh DEAR friend. How wonderful to have had a Grandma Mamma as you did. Such GOOD memories, yes mixed in with some sorrowful ones. This is the time of year my own Dear mom’s and Grandmom’s are on my mind. It’s plant the garden time, and one of my grams had a wonderful garden, veggies and flowers. I could feel her all around me as we planted, etc. My dad as well. I am sure he would be amazed i mow, and trim, and do such things as I was always a “woosey, inside” girl. I remember the joy in his eyes when i asked if it was OK to plant some tomatoes and beans at his house, that last year when i went home to take care of my mom and he. It’s HARD to care for our loved ones in those final times. YET it is also the Greatest gift we can give them, as well as a GREAT JOY to us in the end. Yes, sometimes getting old is hell, but others………..well………… I just have to look at THE GRANDS and Joy spills out of me. To be able to pass on the stories of our past, and to watch them grown. Our families and hopefully our traditions continuing. Yup, lots of aches and pains. Dealing with my Darling’s illness is often hellish, YET there is JOY in this at times as well. My goal is to focus on THE JOY, those sprinkling of blessings that come our way. No, growing old is not hell, BUT it sure can be rough. Wishing you enough JOY to be able to overlook at least some of the “hell”. sending love, hugs and prayers,, always.

    • Anita
      June 7, 2017

      Kathi! Hi

      I’ve been thinking about you lately, wondering how you and Darling are doing. Sending love and hugs to you too. I’ll email you later.

  2. Tamara
    May 30, 2017

    I live in Colorado and found your blog over the weekend. I have enjoyed reading it and looking at the pictures of your beautiful quilts. I work in a nursing home and I genuinely enjoy hearing everyone’s stories. I have residents that talk about the dust bowl like it was yesterday. Both of my parents have passed on and I think hearing the residents stories reminds me so much of my conversations with my dad. Journaling is good for the soul and is a beautiful gift. I found some in my dad’s stuff in 2013 and even the daily notes where nice to read. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anita
      May 31, 2017

      Glad to have you here. Stories need to be told and I’m happy to hear you are listening to the residents. I wonder, are you writing those stories down and documenting who told the story? You’d have the makings for a great book to sell someday….. stories from the past as told by residents of xyz care home. 😉 It was just a thought.

  3. Jill
    May 30, 2017

    I never knew any of my grandparents, so I thank you for sharing Grandma Mama’s life and frugal wisdom with us.

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      I believe a person lives on in the wisdom left behind with others. Each time the wisdom is shared and remembered by someone else that person continues to live. Just look at the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin and how so many can quote at least one of his sayings. He still lives.

  4. craftytadpole
    May 30, 2017

    I am sorry for your losses. Sending you cyber hugs.

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      Thank you. Hugs are always nice.

  5. sarasinart
    May 30, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts in such a wonderful post.

  6. Donna
    May 30, 2017

    Oh Anita, how right you are! You hit the nail on the head! Your words could come right out of my mouth. I especially worry about who will help us when we can no longer do for ourselves. Maybe a grandchild? Who knows. I think about our house and what to do when things break. My husband is 5 years older than me. How will I stay here if something happens to him first? This recently was brought to realization when I was in the hospital for a medication adjustment and my heart stopped. Fortunately I am still here but it scared my husband really bad. Me too. We just have to let God be in control I guess. We don’t want to give up our independence. It is scary..

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      Donna, I’m so glad you are alright. I believe just about everyone in our age group is having the same thoughts these days. The healthcare situation is horrible and getting worse each day. Not only by the politicians but by the insurance industry and the medication industry. Some medications going up 1,000% is simply greed and total disregard for human life.

      We have to come up with some answers BEFORE there is a need and make it well known so there’s no mistakes made in our plans.

  7. T
    May 29, 2017

    Sorry you had a sad day. I think holidays are often lonely days and I usually try to line up something to do as much as I can.

    America is very disappointing as we get older, as one man said to me recently, to see the civil liberties we fought for years ago and thought were unassailable being undermined.

    To be the only modern country in the world with no proper health care, and each year the greedy get greedier and the likelihood of real reform seems further away.

    Today’s scuffling on the floor of Texas Capitol building says it all about the quality of our political representatives today.
    Texas Governor Greg Abbott even wants to make a special tax on nursing home residents across Texas. Anything to increase burdens on the vulnerable or poor and decrease taxation for the 1 %. Heroes we salute you- and plan to pick your pockets later.

    Anita- you provide a useful service to many of us here, information and support, thank you for that and hope tomorrow feels more positive.

    Keep the faith! These younger ones will have to step up themselves one day and pick up the pieces the oligarchs left in their wake, hopefully with renewed honor and integrity and compassion.

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      Thanks T, I like sharing so I write. 😉

      Yes, it was a day of sadness for me. Memorial day is supposed to be a day of remembering and sadness. A good cry now and then helps clear the mind.

      The crazy madness of the world today should not be happening. Yet it is. It will continue to grow worse as the income gap grows wider. It will be hard for the younger generation to have integrity and compassion when all the public figures don’t have those traits. We need another Abe Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, or John Kennedy to step up and stop the madness at the White House. I wonder if such a person even exists anymore?

  8. Melinda
    May 29, 2017

    Your Grandma Mama was wise. I’m missing my grandma now, too. She’s been gone for 15 years. She was so comforting to be around. I know getting old was hell for her too. She was so active, and it literally did her in when she lost her freedom to get around and do things.

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      My worst fear is a nursing home. I think I’d die of a broken heart.

  9. Jackie
    May 29, 2017

    Thank you. True. All of it.

  10. janeisgreenj
    May 29, 2017

    What a wonderful and lovely post! Yes, lovely too, because you’ve had one heck of a difficult life in many ways, but you recognize and love the important things. Your Ladybug will remember you the same way you remember your Grandma Mama.

    Yes, we’re all getting old, and I already feel a lot of the things you’re talking about. My step-mother recently died at age 98, my own mother died when I was just under one year old, my two older brothers are gone and I had a stillborn baby. Those things are all hell. I’m *only* 68 with two adult kids and only one grandchild who’s already 12. Like you, I’m on my own with a very meager income and want to live my remaining years in meaningful ways, but I can’t figure out what those ways are, especially when I have no money!

    Thanks for making my eyes leak with that video, eh! 😉

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      Umm… writing down memories is free and very meaningful for a grandchild if you tell about the things you remember about deceased relatives.

  11. Linda S
    May 29, 2017

    Anita, I didn’t watch the video because I was already crying – didn’t think I could take it. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve cared for 3 of my grandkids most of their lives & now there’s only one left at home. My mind doesn’t believe I’m 71 but when you have kids in their 50s it’s hard to deny. Yes, nearly all my old friends are gone or n nursing homes. We are pretty morose today aren’t we? Let’s go make a quilt!

    • Anita
      May 30, 2017

      Thats exactly what I did, worked on a quilt. Almost got it done too. Will finish it up today.

      • T
        May 30, 2017

        I think the three most important things we teach the next generation are:

        keep to your values;
        learn how to turn a living;
        work hard and get on with it.

        The first- hell, once they are grown up they can live in prison if they are prepared to accept consequences, but they should know- your choice.
        Poverty, abuse, anger…no excuses.
        Pick your values, and live by them.
        You want to live in a decent world- be a decent person.

        Earning a living is often about going in a different direction than everyone else, find a niche, don’t be brainwashed by the CEO stances of people who are wealthier than you will ever be. Perfect your work. Be reliable. Volunteer if you need to learn certain skills. Watch those around you- who can do a good job? Who delivers? Who talks the talk? Who walks it. Is that expensive degree really going to be an investment? Why not save for things you need? If people did without something for millenia, then you can.

        I think the hardest lesson for many young men and women will be- life achievement isn’t 12 hours of computer fun….gaming isn’t much of a skill in most cases…and no matter how much you enjoy ‘work’, there’s a point you have to apply yourself, either to increase your skills or just to continue instead of hanging out or sleeping all day….run your business.
        Work is called work for a reason, it’s not just only doing what you can be bothered or only what’s ‘fun at the time’.

        • Anita
          May 31, 2017

          True. so true. I can’t add a thing.

          • T
            May 31, 2017

            I want to bottle it Anita!

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